- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
She met him at the town pier, in a sixteen-foot bow-rider with a one-ten Mercury outboard, and motioned to him silently to get in. He threw his single bag in the stern and climbed in beside her as she gunned the boat away from the dock, throwing a wake across the waters of Parry Sound, slate gray under a slate gray sky. A dismal June had so far led to a dismal July.
"So, how have you been?" Jackson Rutledge asked, making uncomfortable conversation.
Despite what they had gone through together, or perhaps because of it, their relationship had been an odd one.
She was as laconic as he remembered, Jackson thought, as he gave her a searching look, trying to sense what was bothering her enough to send for him. Her gaze never left the steely water ahead. Her hair, as usual in public, was hidden under a plain kerchief, and her slim body was tensed over the wheel. No, her body language told him nothing, at least nothing that he didn't already know about this uptight young woman, for whom he felt a strange affinity.
Sabrina Osterling had always been difficult to read. In this situation, she was positively cryptic. But, then, her letter had been pretty cryptic, too…and unexpected. He hadn't heard from her in almost a year, not since they'd driven off in different directions from the smoldering ruins of the Butterfly House. And then the letter had arrived, with its blunt message.
Came across something that disturbs me. Will meet you Bay Street pier, Parry Sound, 3 p.m., July 5. Please come.
Sabrina was not one to be "disturbed" by much…nor was she one to say "please," soperhaps that was why, without questioning, he had packed a bag and come, leaving a chapter of his latest manuscript in mid-sentence.
"So what's this thing you came across that disturbs you?" he shouted over the roar of the motor, deciding to come straight to the point.
Sabrina throttled back, both because they were passing the swing bridge that links Parry Island to the mainland where a sign read "No Wakes" and, apparently, to answer him.
"I'd rather not say…not right now." She looked at him with her strange sea-green eyes for the first time since he'd boarded the boat. "Do me a favor."
It wasn't a question. He shrugged.
"Then sit up front. Keep quiet. But look. Look and…feel."
Jackson obediently unfolded his long legs from under the cramping dashboard and moved to the more spacious bow seat, wondering just what, specifically, he was supposed to do. Keeping quiet and looking he could handle. But feeling?
For the moment, he decided on keeping quiet and just looking.
If Sabrina had meant him to appreciate the sights, however, she was going about it the wrong way. The moment they were past the swing bridge, she revved up the motor again and they raced past the year-round residences that lined both sides of the passage and out toward the islands that were summer cottages.
Jackson got a short look at the larger islands, with their stands of pine, grasses rooted in sparse topsoil and clusters of cottages, and then it was on to the outer islands, mostly bare outcroppings of rock, with, perhaps, a scraggly pine or two providing meager shelter for a small shedlike structure. It was difficult to believe a property like that was worth ten dollars, let alone hundreds of thousands. The price one pays for privacy these days!
Jackson came out of this reverie to see that Sabrina had headed the boat out beyond the outer islands and into the fog-shrouded waters of Georgian Bay.
When they had out gone for perhaps a mile into the open water, Sabrina abruptly cut back the engine and shifted into neutral. The sleek craft bobbed in its own wake and the quiet silvery swells of the bay. Behind them, a cluster of small islands was still visible in the fog. Ahead of them, around them, there was nothing but steel-gray air and water.
"All right," Sabrina said. "What do you feel?"
"Nothing else? No…tension in the air?"
Copyright © 2006 T.K. Sheils.